INTERVIEWS FOR SCIENCE JOBS

INCLUDING A MOCK INTERVIEW

 

Try a mock interview for a science job, answering typical questions and also getting tips on how you should answer. There are also other questions students have been asked at science interviews.

WHAT SKILLS DO SCIENTISTS NEED?

Here is a list compiled by one major pharmaceutical company:


Scientific interviews in a laboratory environment may sometimes be "on the hoof" - informal whilst being shown round the lab. Make sure you have revised your project because questions will come from that. 

Employers will be looking to see how you can talk about and demonstrate these skills at your interview. The sort of evidence you could offer includes:

See our Example Science CV for an idea of how to sell these skills to employers.

MOCK INTERVIEW FOR A SCIENCE JOB

Before you arrive ...

Before your interview research the company. Revise thoroughly your project and relevant topics covered in your degree. There may be a tour round and the interview may be informal -especially for placement interviews. You may be asked to give a presentation on your project/research. You may get spatial, numeracy and logical reasoning tests - the Careers Service has examples of these see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/psychotests.htm

There follow some of the questions that might be specifically asked of students at interviews for jobs in scientific research, development, analysis and related areas. General interview questions are not asked here, so you might also like to try the general or multiple choice interviews as well for standard interview questions that can be thrown at any candidate. Click on "First Question" to begin. Think carefully about how you would answer, then click on "Show Answer Tips" to get an idea of how you should be answering.

 

SKILLS NEEDED FOR A RANGE OF SCIENCE CAREERS

Whilst not comprehensive, the following list of skills may give you an idea of the skill sets interviewers may be looking for, for different science jobs,

QUESTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN ASKED AT INTERVIEW FOR SCIENCE JOBS

If you have been to an interview or assessment centre recently please fill in our interview report form to help other students.

About your projects

TECHNICAL QUESTIONS WHICH HAVE BEEN PUT TO KENT STUDENTS

Technical interviews

Basically the questions were technical and would start easy then get harder and harder until I couldn't answer them at which stage the interviewer would switch to a different topic. If they ask you a question which you have forgotten the answer to, tell them that you have studied the topic but can't recall it. Make your answers full.
Kent student interviewed for research post with Qinetiq

I was worried about this, but it turned out to be not difficult. It took 50 minutes. I was asked a question from the STAR objectives, an exercise in matching organisms to the source and type (e.g. candida - budding yeast - human) and then another analytical problem.

We were the manager at a lab and rising microbial counts had been observed going past acceptable levels in the water supply of the production lab. What would we do to investigate and address this?
Kent student interviewed by GSK

These are often asked at interviews for science, engineering, computing or research posts and where the interviewee has a relevant degree background. Briefly revise any particularly relevant areas of your course, especially projects. Normally these questions are not too difficult. Sometimes a funneling technique is used, where the questions start at a simple and broad level and then gradually become more specific and detailed - perhaps until they reach the point where you cannot answer any further! For example:

Occasionally problems arise because the interviewer is a technical specialist without much interviewing experience. In this situation they are likely to home in on the parts of your application that they feel most comfortable with - usually projects and work experience.

BIOSCIENCE, CHEMISTRY and PHARMACY

PHYSICS and SPACE SCIENCE

MEDICAL PHYSICS (STP Programme)

The interview was split into 4 sections, each lasting for exactly 10 minutes: Technical questions asked:

Patent attorney interview

QUESTIONS YOU COULD ASK AT SCIENCE INTERVIEWS

Presentations. See our page on presentation skills

We were asked to give a 15 minute presentation on the following scenario:
One of our manufacturing sites is being re-structured, and one aspect of the re-structuring is the laboratory testing service.  The products tested in this laboratory are aseptic sterile inject-able products, and topical creams and ointments.  The number of laboratory people to provide a service is being significantly reduced without impacting on product quality.  Your task is to help determine how the testing service can be streamlined, to simplify and rationalise the testing service.  How would you go about doing this. We were each presenting to one of the assessors. After the presentation the assessors went through our presentation and told us what they thought was good and bad. (GSK)

Group Exercises See our page on teamworking skills

We were told we were members of a board who had to solve an important issue. A press release for a new drug had received complaints on unprofessionalism from different sources and we had to construct a plan to deal with this and also propose future plans to make sure this didn't happen again. We were given 35 minutes for the meeting, including 10 minutes reading time and note taking. There was no feedback given here at all - and all 3 assessors were present taking notes during the exercise.(GSK)

TIPS FROM INTERVIEWEES

FURTHER HELP

 

Back to the mock interviews menu or Answers to 150 common interview questions